Since 1955, the Kansas Jayhawks have had six head coaches, two national championships, 12 first-team All-Americans and 30 first-round draft picks. The one constant through all of this has been Allen Fieldhouse.
Before there was “The Nation’s Biggest Home Court Advantage," there was Hoch Auditorium. This first home court for the Jayhawks was located in current-day Budig Hall.
University historian Mark D. Hersey wrote about the early history of Allen Fieldhouse.
"The 3,800-seat Hoch Auditorium, which was then the Jayhawks’ home court, had become wholly inadequate to a student body that had grown to 9,000," Hersey wrote in an article on kuhistory.com.
Construction on the new arena began in 1952, but not without problems. In part because of the Korean War, steel was hard to come by and it wasn’t until after the war had ended in 1954 that construction could resume.
A year later, the building was officially complete. The completion of the new arena coincided with Wilt Chamberlain’s first year at the University of Kansas.
While the building was officially opened in 1955, the conversation over naming the new home of the Jayhawks had started a year earlier.
“In the autumn of 1954, the University Daily Kansan offered its readers an opportunity to vote on the name of the new structure,” Hersey writes. The options included names such as James Naismith and Phog Allen.
Allen won overwhelmingly and on March 1st 1955, the building was dedicated to the legendary basketball coach. Kansas would beat Kansas State that night 77-66 in Allen Fieldhouse’s first game.
Since its opening, Allen Fieldhouse has undergone occasional renovations. In 1986, seating was expanded to accommodate an extra 400 people and in 1994, capacity grew by 700. KU Athletics now has the current capacity listed at 16,300.
In 2009, thanks to a $42 million renovation, an indoor practice court was added along with new locker rooms, clubhouses, lounges and offices.
According to RPI Ratings, Kansas’ .8698 win percentage in Allen Fieldhouse is the sixth-highest of any Division I team before the 2015-2016 season. Kansas has yet to lose a game at home this year.
Both players and coaches have commented on the intensity of playing in Allen Fieldhouse. After a loss to Kansas on Jan. 30, Kentucky senior Alex Poythress called it the “loudest atmosphere I've ever been in.”
“There is no better home court advantage than this,” North Carolina coach and former Kansas coach Roy Williams said at the 60th anniversary of Allen Fieldhouse.
Even ESPN analyst Jay Bilas has called Allen Fieldhouse “the St. Andrew’s of college basketball.” In 2013, another ESPN analyst, Jason King, ranked Allen Fieldhouse as the best home court in college basketball.
Last year, Allen Fieldhouse turned 60 years old, but there’s plenty of history still to be made.
— Edited by Skylar Rolstad